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Episode Studies by Clayton Barr


Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary: The Journey Continues
Written by Andy Marx
Directed by Christen Harty Schaefer
Released in 1999

Interviews with the cast and crew of the cult classic TV series Galaxy Quest on occasion of the show's 20th anniversary.


Watch the complete mockumentary at the Galaxy Quest Collection blog


Didja Know?


Galaxy Quest 20th Anniversary: The Journey Continues is a mockumentary produced for the E! Television cable network in 1999 as a promo for the then-upcoming movie Galaxy Quest. The half-hour special interviews the stars of the film, Tim Allen, Sigourney Weaver, Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell, Daryl Mitchell, and production crew as if they were actually their meta-characters, actors Jason Nesmith, Gwen DeMarco, Alexander Dane, Guy Fleegman, Tommy Weber, et. al. who appeared in the television series Galaxy Quest.


Didja Notice?


During his interview, Nesmith starts to go into an AFTRA problem that was going on at the time he was doing Galaxy Quest, implying it had to do with he and the rest of the cast not getting paid much for their roles in the series. AFTRA was a real world union for performers, the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. In 2012, it merged with SAG, the Screen Actors Guild, yielding the new, single union, SAG-AFTRA.


   At 1:06 in the special, a Variety headline appears, from the May 1, 1982 edition, announcing the cancellation of the Galaxy Quest TV series. Variety is a tabloid covering the entertainment trade.

   Another headline on the front page of the paper has something to do with Blade Runner "on top of" something. Blade Runner was a 1982 sci-fi film based on Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? The film was not released until June 28, so the headline can not be a comment on the box office returns (besides the fact that Blade Runner did not do well at the box office on its initial release), so I don't know what it was "on top of" in Variety's view in 1982, when Galaxy Quest was canceled and these headlines would have appeared (since then, Blade Runner has become a cult classic).


In this special, the narrator states that the actors of the cancelled TV series have now been reunited for a major motion picture. But in the meta-world of Galaxy Quest, it was a new TV series that was produced, not a movie (as seen at the end of Galaxy Quest), though the pilot was a two-hour TV movie according to the Galactopedia on the Blu-ray release of Galaxy Quest.


A number of similarities to the original Star Trek and Star Trek-The Next Generation TV series' are seen throughout the GQ references in this special:
  • The TV surface scenes of the planets the crew find themselves on in clips from the series are very similar to cheesy "Styrofoam rocks and funny-colored sky" sets used in many Star Trek episodes.
      Scene from a Galaxy Quest episode (possibly "The Planet of Dr. Garbanian" according to the Galactopedia).   Scene from the Star Trek episode "The Man Trap".
  • The narrator remarks that the original TV series has become America's number one science-fiction cult classic.
  • Fans like the way the series asked probing questions about humanity and the issues of our world.
  • Many fans of the series enjoy dressing in costume while attending conventions dedicated to the series.
  • Fans have a collective nickname applied by and to themselves, "Questarians", similarly to the "Trekkies" or "Trekkers" applied to Star Trek fans.
  • Galaxy Quest is stated here to have lasted three seasons, the same as the original Star Trek. (But the Galaxy Quest movie establishes the series as being on for four seasons.)
  • Gwen DeMarco comments about Nesmith that "he's, I don't think every show has to be about him." And in the Galaxy Quest movie, Alexander accuses Nesmith of stealing all his best lines and cutting him out of episode 2 entirely. Some of the supporting actors on the original Star Trek have complained that star William Shatner would hog the best lines and scenes in the series at the expense of the supporting cast. In addition, the general negative attitude the other actors seem to have for Nesmith can be loosely applied to Trek's supporting cast toward Shatner.
  • GQ character Tawny Madison is described as having a role that was simply to repeat the ship's computer's lines to her fellow crewmembers. This is a reference to the Lt. Uhura character of Star Trek, who all-to-frequently was only given lines such as "Hailing frequencies open".
  • Alexander Dane's disdain for his continual association with his role on Galaxy Quest is a broad reference to the actors of Star Trek, who sometimes felt that they were later typecast as their series characters, making it difficult to find good roles afterward.
  • The 10-year old character of Lt. Laredo, crack gunner and navigator of the Protector, is analogous to that of 15-year old Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher at the helm of the Enterprise on Star Trek-The Next Generation.
  • Galaxy Quest started out with low ratings and became more popular after its cancellation, as did Star Trek.


At various points in the special GQ fans (Questarians) are seen in costumes that are probably intended to have been from episodes of the TV series.  


John Marksin, PhD. and Professor of TV Studies comments on the series. "Television studies" is an actual academic field studied and taught at some higher education institutions. As far as I can tell, Dr. Marksin is a fictional character.


Nesmith remarks that starring on the show meant not having to do guest-star roles on Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. These were actual television series on the ABC network in the late 1970s through mid-1980s. Both shows were known for their weekly guest stars of iconic film and television actors of the past.


Linda DeScenna is interviewed as the production designer of the series. She is a real person who does production design and set decoration for television and film. In fact, she was the production designer of the movie Galaxy Quest.


The hand-written letter seen on the screen at 3:15 in the special is addressed to Mr. Ross. Frank Ross is later said to have been the creator of Galaxy Quest on television.


Newman C. Worth, historian of TV classics, presents his opinion of the series. He appears to be a fictional character.


Nesmith mentions that they tried to get Orson Welles to direct a few episodes. Orson Welles (1915-1985) was a famed film director (and writer/producer/actor). His 1941 film Citizen Kane is considered by many critics to be the best film ever made.


Nesmith mentions the name of one of the GQ episodes, "The Blibbering Blimp", about an alien filled with hydrogen. The special then flash-cuts to an explosion on the Protector. The blimp, hydrogen, and explosion are tongue-in-cheek references to the Hindenburg disaster of 1937, in which the German zeppelin by that name, which used hydrogen for its buoyancy, exploded and burned.


The special reveals that the GQ series started filming in September 1979. If the series started in 1979 and ended in 1982, then it lasted for three seasons. (But the Galaxy Quest movie establishes the series as being on for four seasons.) It is implied that the series had its own studio, called Galaxy Quest Studios, which now no longer exists.


At 4:42 in the special, a large post or banner reading NCASE is seen hanging next to a stage at a GQ convention. NCASE is the National Congress on Aviation and Space Education, an annual convention co-sponsored by the Civil Air Patrol, NASA, and the FAA for expanding aviation and space related educational opportunities for teachers and their students.


   The special reveals that the series was created by Frank Ross. It's implied that the pilot episode of the series was "The Blue Winds of the Moon". Ross reveals the series was originally conceived as a western called West Quest, and the pilot had already been shot when they were told that "westerns are out".

   So, Ross quickly rewrote the show to be about Navy SEALS...Navy Quest. (Navy SEALS are the special operations force of the U.S. Navy.) But the studio was going into bankruptcy and couldn't come up with the money to purchase Navy props. But they did have a bunch of sci-fi props leftover from an old space movie they'd made...


Nesmith reveals he'd previously had a recurring role on a sitcom called Hello, Neighbor, where only his head was ever seen, his body blocked by the wooden fence of the main character's back yard. This is an in-joke to Tim Allen's own 1991-1999 sitcom Home Improvement, in which his character, Tim Taylor, often receives advice from Wilson, the man who lives next door to the Taylor family and is only ever seen as a partial face behind the back yard fence.


Nesmith reveals he was actually on the studio lot to audition for Ordinary People when he got the role on Galaxy Quest. Ordinary People is an Academy Award winning 1980 drama film directed by Robert Redford (with whom Nesmith claims to be close friends).


Nesmith likes to drop names, claiming to be close to Robert Redford (actor/director), Tony Robbins (motivational speaker and self-help guru), and Jerry Seinfeld (comedian/actor).


Tommy Weber reveals that he and Nesmith used to go fishing together while they were making the series.


Nesmith says he has become a better person since the days of filming the series, thanks to Tony Robbins. Robbins is a motivational speaker and self-help author.


The narrator states that Tawny Madison was the only female crewmember of the ship.


The publicity shot of Gwen DeMarco at 9:12 in the special is actually a publicity shot of Sigourney Weaver for Aliens. The second publicity shot of her may be of her character from Ghostbusters.


The special reveals that Gwen DeMarco was known for her low budget films before landing the GQ role of Tawny Madison.


When Tawny backhands an alien in a scene from a GQ episode, it's obvious she does not really hit the actor. Certainly an intentional gag by the real world producers to make the series look cheap.


The special reveals that Gwen DeMarco was up for a small role in Woody Allen's Annie Hall at the same time she auditioned for Galaxy Quest and she chose the series role. Annie Hall is a 1977 comedy film directed by and starring Woody Allen. It won four Academy Awards that year, including best picture; in addition it featured one of Sigourney Weaver's first bit roles!


The publicity photos of Alexander Dane at 10:26 and 10:36 in the special appear to be ones of Alan Rickman as the Sheriff of Nottingham in the 1991 film Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Dane is described as an accomplished Shakespearean actor; Rickman is as well.


The special reveals that the alien makeup and creature effects for the series were done by Stan Winston. Winston (1946-2008) was a real world special effects and makeup artist, known particularly for collaborations with directors James Cameron and Steven Spielberg. He actually did the makeup effects of the film Galaxy Quest.


Lt. Laredo is said to have been 10 years old when the series started and was the ship's crack gunner and navigator.


The magazine cover at 13:43 in the special is called TV Listings, inspired by the real world magazine TV Guide.


The special reveals that Matt Sweeney was the special effects supervisor of the series. Sweeney was the real world special effects supervisor of the film Galaxy Quest.


Most of the TV series listed in the ratings at the time of GQ's 1979 premiere appear to be real shows at the time, but some I have not been able to confirm, such as Lazarus Syndrome, Slavage, Eishied, and The Last Resort. The presence of Big Shamus, Little Shamus on the list tells us that GQ premiered either September 29 or October 6, 1979 since only two episodes of that series ever aired, on those dates.


At 15:12 in the special, an old Universal-International newsreel title card is inserted, which states "Voice: Ed Herlihy". This was an actual newsreel series presented in theaters from 1929-1967, usually known as Universal Newsreel. Most were voiced by actor Ed Herlihy (1909-1999).


Frank Ross states that the network was broadcasting the World Series between Pittsburgh and Baltimore in 1979 and Game 7 got rained out, so an episode of GQ was aired instead, allowing it to place second in the ratings for the week, after Dallas. The Pittsburgh Pirates and the Baltimore Orioles actually did play in the World Series, the annual championship of Major League Baseball, that year. However, Game 7 of the series was not rained out in the real world. The World Series was aired on television by ABC that year, implying it is the network that birthed Galaxy Quest. Dallas was a prime time soap opera that aired on CBS from 1978-1991.


The newspaper headline at 15:18 in the special, about the rained out game of the World Series, is from the Los Angeles Reporter newspaper. This is a fictional newspaper.


The issue of Daily Variety proclaiming Galaxy Quest ratings skyrocketing, also shows the headline "Mork and Mindy Renewed". Mork & Mindy was a 1978-1982 sitcom about an alien from planet Ork who shares an apartment with a human female in Boulder, Colorado.


The box of the NSEA Protector model kit suggests that the ship is an Evolution-class starship.


The convention banner seen at 16:18 in the special misspells "Questarians" as "Questrians" (I suppose if they're fans who meet online, they're known as E-Questrians).


At 16:19 in the special, a convention-goer walks past the camera wearing a uniform shirt from Star Trek-The Next Generation. He also appears to be wearing Vulcan ears.


At 17:31 in the special, Tommy Weber makes the sign of the horns with his fingers. In American culture, this is often construed as a devil sign, frequently used by rock 'n' roll bands. In the context of GQ, it may be an alien hand sign similar to the Vulcan salute in Star Trek.


Nesmith claims that after GQ, he was close to getting lead roles on Miami Vice, Magnum P.I., and the A-Team (in the Dirk Benedict role). These were all real world TV series, though Magnum P.I. premiered in 1980, so it seems unlikely Nesmith could have been up for anything other than a guest role since GQ would have still been in production when the series premiered. Dirk Benedict played Faceman on the A-Team TV series (and is also well-known as Starbuck on the original Battlestar Galactica).


The last couple minutes of the special breaks the illusion of taking place in the TV series alternate timeline by talking about the upcoming 1999 movie in order to sell it for the audience.


Memorable Dialog


surrender may be our only option.wav

it's too easy.wav

worry about her hair.wav

camp counselor.wav


"The Blibbering Blimp".wav

West Quest.wav

walking around in chaps.wav

I got the role.wav

it's not like there's bad blood.wav

he's English.wav 


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